Today I visited a church that is further up the valley. The congregation worships in a warehouse-type building in a small industrial mall. I got there about 7 minutes prior to the service starting. The place slowly filled up with attendees. There were many age groups visible, primarily 20 somethings to 50 somethings. I saw very few under twenties. A wide variety of apparel patterns were wonderfully visible as well, from jeans and an untucked shirt to full tailored suits and everything inbetween. Demographically it probably was a good representation of it’s area, with very few minorities present. There was a friendly atmosphere, with people greeting at the door and lots of relevant information in the handout. The seats were very comfortable padded stacking chairs. People were having soft conversations as the countdown clock in a corner of the projection screen showed how much time was left before the service began. You could see the leaders gather at the side of the stage for a prayer huddle before beginning. I like seeing that. The musicians began leading us, after a short word of welcome and a word to the fathers for father’s day. I knew very few of the songs, so it was difficult to fully participate. Even the ones that were somewhat familiar were hard to join in on, because some of the rythms and music patterns were different than I was accustomed to. This led me to wonder if the music leadership was either a little too ‘entertainment’ or ‘soloist’ oriented, or if it was a problem of general song selection not having a focus on being ‘singable’. The songs were all relevant to the overall theme of the service. It is fair to say that to a degree, this song leading issue interfered with my fully feeling like I was participating in worship. I felt more like I was watching it.
The group has a great light and sound setup, so you tend to forget you are in a warehouse building. The sound quality particularly stood out for me, with bass you could feel — which I like — yet which didn’t overwhelm. There was some trouble with the higher midrange vocal range, so the female vocalists did not come through very well. I thought one of them was singing a very interesting lower harmony line but I could not hear it well.
There was an update from a missionary who works with AIDS orphans in Africa. It was heartfelt and touching and passionate.
The pastor’s message was very personal and personable, even though the pastor gave a few counter-cultural challenges within it. It was related to Father’s Day, emphasizing that most if not all fathers are flawed fathers, but pointing to the perfect Father as one to rely on. There were several personal touches in the point-form, scripture-founded message, and these helped one feel immediately connected to and relating with the pastor. The pastor is a ‘pacer’ — a trait I can relate to — but it became annoying to notice that he never looked down the center toward the back, mainly looking from side to side as he paced. It may have been a lighting problem, where when you are up front the lights are so bright you can’t see up the middle. At the end of the message Fathers were invited forward for prayer and a treat.
Despite the glitches I have mentioned, I felt at home and moved to greater appreciation of God the perfect Father and his work among this group and in my life.